POINT-OF-CARE ULTRASOUND EXAMINATION is a topic covered in the Guide to Diagnostic Tests.

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Point-of-care (POC) ultrasound is the use of compact and portable ultrasonography at a patient’s bedside for a time-sensitive diagnostic or therapeutic purpose. Interpretation of the ultrasound images and immediate clinical decisions can be made by the clinicians conducting the examination, thereby enabling rapid assessment and intervention. To be used for POC examination, the technique should be easily learned and quickly performed, and be used for a well-defined purpose with easily recognizable findings.

POC ultrasound is commonly used in cardiology, obstetrics, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, intensive and critical care, pain management, and vascular surgery settings. Examples of POC ultrasound applications include:

  1. To determine whether an unresponsive patient is bleeding into the abdominal cavity or if a patient is having cardiac tamponade, pulmonary embolism or pneumothorax.
  2. To provide static or dynamic ultrasound-based procedural guidance (eg, vascular access, central venous catheter placement, regional nerve block, thoracentesis).
  3. To monitor pregnancy (status of fetus), intraoperative fluid status and cardiac function, or to diagnose acute synovitis, acute cholecystitis, perforated appendicitis, hemarthrosis, or aortic aneurysm.
  4. To assess the status of bleeding from kidneys, urinary bladder, or prostate and to evaluate a hematoma.

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